All she ever wanted was to be a knight. And it was that dream, that spurred the changing and the strengthening of a realm, the discovery of talent and of magic, the birth and the heart of many, the legend and the inspiration for all.
On the outside, Page Alan of Trebond is simply a boy with wicked purple eyes and wild twist of flame red hair, the same as any other knight-in-training at the royal palace. But deeper, Page Alan is not all he seems.
Alan is Alanna, the girl with a love for archery and fencing, a passion for riding and a drive that pushes her to open closed doors and to chase her desires, to dance with rogues and laugh with princes, to see and do and truly be. Disguised as her twin brother, she sneaks off to become a palace page, a knight in training. Alanna stays true to her task to become a knight, binding and concealing her budding womanhood, struggling with the force of her magical Gift, the touch that the Gods have placed upon her, and all of the trials and tribulations that come from being a simultaneous girl and boy.
She faces bullies, falls in love, experiences duels, battles, and murderous mages, befriends all from the King of Thieves to the Crown Prince of Tortall, all in hope of earning her shield as a knight.
My gosh. I love this book.
Ever since I was a tiny little mite of evilness and awesome, I have completely, toadally, muhahahably adorified the Alanna series. She's a girl who defies all social boundaries and constraints to follow her aspirations, and she's inspiring to characters in her book and to readers alike. She reminds me of Frankie from the Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks (by E. Lockhart—check out Avery Trelaine's brilliant review right here), who does sort of the same thing. Both books explore the issues of a woman and a girl in a society that subtly, even unintentionally restrains or underestimates them.
Another thing to be loved about these books, is the fact that at the end of the series, the characters don't simply disappear. They appear later on as guest stars of principle characters in later series that focus on others. You find out how each person's life progresses, who they marry, what children they have, what battles they've won, and you follow their maturing and their aging, in a way that seems as though you really know them.
Alanna is especially cool, because there is a series about her daughter, a series about her husband, a series about a girl who loves and idolizes her, and in every single Tortall story, she is present as a celebrated legend. By the way, Tortall is the country in which Alanna lives.
So. The series as a whole, receives a wickedly ineffable, empyreal, prodigious review, along with a whopping five out of five evil daggers.
Weeping with admiration for strong women around the world,
Your newbie cousin,